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Catherine, 80, is a grandmother who was born in South Dakota. She came from a family of nine, seven boys and two girls.
Catherine says, “Living in South Dakota was much different than here in Wisconsin.” The weather was cold in the winter and hot and dry in the summer (100 degrees in the shade).
“I remember when it was so dry we would have dust storms that kept us busy dusting the window sills.”
There were always chores to do. The family didn’t have running water, which meant they had to pump water for cooking, washing dishes, washing clothes, water for baths, and water for the garden.
“We always had a big garden.”
Catherine’s mother canned as much as she could so the family would have food for the winter. It was stored in the cellar; there were no freezers at the time.
“My mother would try to cook enough food so we would eat it all in one day.”
Later on, they got an icebox. Catherine’s dad had to bring ice home every day for it. This way, they could have leftovers.
In the fall Catherine and her siblings would cut up wood, chop it, and store it. Every night they had to bring it up to the house.
“We used wood for the cook stove and coal for our heating stove. In the winter when the fire went out it got awfully cold.”
“We didn’t have a thermostat,” says Catherine. All the children huddled around the stove for warmth.
The family had an electric washing machine, but no dryer. Catherine and her siblings hung the wash out in the summer and winter.
“It was hard in the winter because your hands would get bitter cold.”
“When we had a new baby in the house we used a washboard to wash the baby’s clothes daily and hang them out.”
“We were never bored, even if we didn’t have a television.”
The kids were always outside playing games (kick the can, ante I over, wagon wheel, and cops and robbers). They always had a bat and ball. They had one pair of ice skates and roller skates.
“When we had to stay indoors we played checkers. We always had a deck of cards. We played 500 rummy and pig.”
The family had a radio, but Catherine’s dad got to listen to his programs (the news, Jack Benny, Amos and Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, and boxing with Joe Louis).
“I would have been in seven heaven if I could have had a radio. I loved music,” says Catherine.
“Our family might have been poor, but we were rich to have lived during this time.”